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Amazon Key expands to deliver packages inside your car (arstechnica.com)
65 points by rbanffy 10 months ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 83 comments

Amazon should sell installable mailboxes that hold packages delivered by Amazon. Amazon can have the key to that.

Great for houses that you own, doesn't work as well for apartment/condo if you don't get the building itself to just put package lockers in the lobby.

My dream configuration is a guardhouse/lobby or something with package bays and a bathroom/drinks fridge/tv/wifi for delivery personnel. I'd love to give my UPS/FedEx/USPS/Uber/Lyft/etc. drivers a great place on their route to use the bathroom, take a break, potentially eat their lunch, etc. when delivering packages to me. Doing this as a business is easy, but it would probably work for a gated community or apartment complex, too.

Here in Japan it’s a common setup to have a box you leave an unlocked lock on that the delivery person locks and you have the spare key for https://item.rakuten.co.jp/yasuize/zk-tb-0533-01/?iasid=07_1...

What happens if there are more than 1 delivery in the day? Or if those darn kids down the street close the lock before the delivery person gets there?

Well, then tough luck. It doesn't have a solution for that. I had one of these boxes and this was never a problem though.

I like the concept, but I don't like the brand lock-in.

Plus I imagine for branding reasons these boxes would be highly visible and more visible than most packages would be.

You give me a subtle box that can be opened by UPS, FedEx, USPS, and Amazon Logistics and I'm game.

And please make them insulated. And I would prefer a rustic, vintage design. Here is a gallery to take inspiration from:


I'm only half kidding.. the amount of insulated packaging waste from when I had my Gobble (one of those cook-it-yourself food deliveries) subscription was one reason why I cancelled it.

The USPS will never allow it. Only USPS deliveries are allowed in any USPS receptacle.

Everyone except USPS then. I've been kicking around the idea myself. Something like a package box with a slide down ramp, so you can't pull anything out when delivering something new.

You can get one of these on Amazon.

A simple plastic/metal box with a lid and without a lock will give you 90% of the benefit - a would-be thief, unable to see whether you have any packages form the street, will move on to the next house that does have visible packages laying at the door.

You can order the box right now and have the setup ready by the end of the week https://www.amazon.com/dp/B00JXRFFJM

I tried that, but the box was stolen off my doorstep.

How big was your box?

I'm pretty sure they do. I remember seeing something about community mailboxes Amazon was offering for this exact reason to apartment buildings and such.

They do, they're called Amazon Lockers, https://www.amazon.com/b?ie=UTF8&node=6442600011

They do, but it caters to commercial customers that would otherwise have to deal with the package volume generated by Amazon.

This wouldn't work for an individual that just wants a secure private box at their home for Amazon to deliver packages.

if you’re near to a whole foods you can get delivery there.

That's sort of what DHL is doing in Germany: Instead of to an address, you can have packages delivered to a mailbox-as-a-service which is called "Packstation". Your package is stored in a drawer that you open with an ID card issued by DHL plus a TAN you get via SMS.

Amazon is more interested in lowering delivery costs, which means delivery density, and installable mailboxes per resident don't help here.

If Amazon provided the delivery box it could easily reduce costs. The delivery box could automatically open when the delivery person approached it, it could have transceivers to improve robotic delivery in the future, and it could be size-matched to what Amazon typically needs to deliver and order.

they do. apartments can buy them, for example.

I would be wary of using this service in a place like SF where smash and grab is so prevalent.

Basically thieves will follow Amazon delivery trucks and watch where the packages get delivered.


If car manufacturers were smart, they'd be all over this. Separate key for trunk vs. cabin.

This solves the drop-package in an unsafe location problem. Why drop shit on your porch when you can drop it into the safer trunk of your car, wherever it is?

Brilliant idea, they're really hammering at the problem.

Once cars are even smarter, they'd go to a Amazon hub while you're sleeping/at work and pick up packages for you of course. Without the effin' carton around it, no need for all that garbage.

Mock all you want, Amazon is at least trying.

A lot of vehicles allow access to the trunk by folding down a section of the back seat (so you can haul longer items like skis), so I'm not sure this would be quite as easy as suggested.

Usually the latches are only accessible from inside the cabin, however; if only the trunk is unlocked, you can't fold down the seat.

Last two sedans I've had, they were opposite.

Honda will only let you fold down the seats if you already have the trunk open (to solve the evil-valet problem).

Subaru will only let you fold down the seats from the cabin (to... stop people from escaping out of the trunk, I guess?).

Depends on the vehicle. A great many vehicles have open compartment trunks. Pretty much the majority of vans, SUVs, and station wagons.. and most hatchbacks just have a small plastic tray that is easily removable from the inside.

My Mazda has the backseat release cables in the trunk on purpose.

I'd be more worried about someone breaking the glass to get into the trunk than vice versa, so the arrangement seems the most logical.

A few years ago my company had a big meeting for all senior mangers at a huge conference centre.

Problem was some perp had worked out they had all left their laptops in the company car a large number of which where hatch back's when they all came out a number of hatch backs windows had been smashed and the lap tops nicked.

My car isn't a hatchback but obviously there's a huge problem if you own one.

Chevy Malibu is folded down from the trunk at least on the 98 model.

Some cars have the opposite - a valet key that allows access to anything BUT the trunk

> If car manufacturers were smart, they'd be all over this. Separate key for trunk vs. cabin.

Works for classic sedan style csrs if they have no access through the seats (but most do these days.)

Doesn't work for hatchbacks, SUVs, etc., where cargo and passenger compartments are not separate.)

Everything old is new again. My first car, a late 1970s Chrysler had a square key for the ignition and a round key for the doors and trunk. I think Ford vehicles of that era may have had a third "trunk only" key.

I think that's how Ford used to make their keys by default, one key for the cabin and ignition and one key for the trunk, this is what my dad's 1988 ford taurus did and I remember it was pretty annoying.

I like this. There’s no way I’d let an Amazon bozo into my home but I don’t mind them leaving stuff in my car which is much less risky. I’d prefer that they only get access to the trunk but I think most cars are set up the other way (able to specifically lock trunk, not cabin).

the article says:

Users may have more peace of mind knowing that OnStar, On Call, and other services can restrict unlocking to only one part of the car (like the trunk), limiting the access that a courier has

I wonder if Amazon's plan of delivery into home was just marketing for in-trunk delivery.

Or maybe as a distraction for Walmart , which copied the in-home version.

There's also the idea of having them put cold groceries directly into the fridge and freezer.

Or a dog walker being able to use an Amazon access to open the door to get your dog.

I think Amazon wants to go anywhere consumers will let them but they realize people are going to be very reluctant and some people will never be ok with it but they must think enough will for it to be worth the R&D.

Feckin' gross, I definitely do not want some Amazon dude rooting around in my refrigerator.

The problem is particularly bad for packages sent to condo buildings. Amazon pickup points are good, but still require you to go pick it up (and delivery notifications are usually quite delayed for me for some reason).

I've been throwing around an idea where condo residents can sign up to be a package hero and accept deliveries on your behalf... maybe even deliver to your door on demand. Is there a reason this doesn't yet exist? Just trust or something else?

This was introduced to solve this specific problem https://www.amazon.com/b?ie=UTF8&node=17337376011

It requires buildings to sign up though. There are also services like Parcel Pending that solve this problem.

We had one in my building. First package I ever received the door got stuck and I couldn't get it out. Had to get on the phone and wait for a maintenance man.

Like one person it the building who volunteers (or is compensated) to sign for all packages? Not a bad idea. Makes a lot more sense than the startups where you have packages shipped to a receiving center and then a random worker redelivers them to you.

I think fraud might be tricky. If my neighbor steals my packages, what do I do? Doubt the carrier's insurance would apply.

It exists. I don't remember the name.

They're probably angling to cut delivery costs by delivering to people's cars while they're at work.

A parking lot is a much denser cluster of delivery points than a neighborhood of three family houses and packages get stolen from locked cars less than from doorsteps (well maybe not in SF).

Edit: I'm not disagreeing about the creepy factor. This could be abused fairly easily. I expect that it's a matter of time before they sell access to the data set (which will probably include a picture of the license plate and the package sitting inside the car) to some authoritarian state (I'm betting PA, MA or TX) who will then mail a citation for every equipment violation they see. Building your own data set to do this wouldn't be worth it and wouldn't pass public scrutiny but when you can just buy someone's data set it's easy.

There's plenty of other legally white but ethically gray when done at scale things you could do with a data set that will likely include a smartphone-res picture of the interior of somone's car.

On the other hand. This opens up an option for people who live in one state but work in another to exploit differing laws to their advantage (tax, shipping restrictions)

They're probably angling to cut delivery costs by delivering to people's cars while they're at work.

This analysis aligns to what I know about how Amazon rolls out new products and features. There was an A|B test of this, and the option they're rolling out saved a ton of money.

First they wanted to unlock my house. Now they want to unlock my car. Why does this feel creepy?

They don't really want to unlock your house and your car, just one of them. Assuming that you don't have some secure alternative for receiving packages. I don't think they expect (or want) every customer to use one of these options.

I wouldn't use either service since my porch is relatively secure and packages can be left out of sight -- I have a porch-cam, but have never lost a package to theft.

I don't think I'd be comfortable giving Amazon the ability to unlock my house, but maybe my car. For that matter, I wouldn't want any kind of cloud-connected lock that gives any remote unlock capability. I do have an electronic keypad lock, but I like knowing that it can only be unlocked locally.

You should have been /be creeped out by on-star if anything. Every on-star vehicle can be tracked within the triangulation limits of cell towers (aka. within half a mile if not better.)

In some cars, you can yank the OnStar module without ill effects. If you're not a subscriber, it may be something to look into.

I did this on my father's 2008 GMC Sierra and we replaced it with a BlueStar[1] bluetooth adapter. It works flawlessly and mimics OnStar functionality down to muting the radio and stopping A/C fans for voice control. It's far nicer than most aftermarket Bluetooth mods.

[1] http://www.costartech.com/pb/products/bluestar.html

https://www.google.com/maps/timeline If you run android this is the same thing. It can be turned off but most people will probably have it on.

This is incredibly creepy and pretty useful at the same time...

I've found it to be interesting and useful, especially after having an Android phone for multiple years. I can easily go back and see where I went on a particular day, which is particularly useful when rediscovering travel spots

So which one is it: it’s creepy and you don’t want it in your life, or it’s creepy but not enough to avoid it?

Are you also creeped out by your cellphone?

Yes, but the pros outweigh the cons.

I've never owned a smart phone and I turn off my throw away phone when not using it.

A bit.

Opening my car concerns me less for privacy and in basically every way than opening my home. I'd make sure any firearms were in truckvaults, but while it's possible the Amazon guy would steal the trauma bag out of the trunk, it seems relatively unlikely.

It would have to be a car with a trunk, vs. a SUV, if left parked in a place like San Francisco, though, due to risk of theft by third parties.

Maybe they could start building apartments next to distribution hubs?

To me, no. I don't keep anything personal, or of value, in my car. There's no risk of the delivery man seeing me walking around in the buff or seeing me in an intimate moment.

This seems like a solution to all the people who thought unlocking their house was too creepy. They don't want to unlock your house and your car. This is an alternative.

sucks if this service will be exclusive to subscription services offered by car manufacturers. Cant amazon make a dongle with a simcard and/or wifi that plugs into ODB2 port to enable remote lock/unlock?

Onstar et al would never, ever, ever let that happen.

Viper is the only one I know of that's similar aftermarket. But still, that's about as common now as aftermarket head units.

Obligatory Onion link: "Popular New Amazon Service Just Comes To Your House And Kills You"


I remember BMW pushing the concept too, around 2016.

Yes please put an Amazon parcel in my car all day so my window can be smashed.

Not everyone has their car in a place where the window is likely to be smashed. I live in a place where windows are smashed frequently but work in a place with a parking lot patrolled by private security. I'd be perfectly comfortable having a package sitting in my car all day, and in fact have left my car sitting in that parking lot untouched for 6 weeks without issues.

Sounds like they want to put it in your trunk.

I don't really see the point of this. Assuming you have equal or less cars per (adult) person in your househould, what advantage does this have exactly? Your car is likely going to be wherever you are. If it's going to be at work then just deliver it to your office. If it's at home then just deliver it normally.

Best use case is if you've gone for a walk or have more cars than people and then what, your car in your driveway becomes a glorified 5 figure oversized mailbox?

Call me paranoid, but I feel like the real reason is this:

>On the day of delivery, customers can check if their car is parked in-range of the delivery location in the Amazon Key app.

That implies to me they'll have access to your cars location, which is information they can use for targeted ads.

That probably depends on the kind of job you have. If you're a developer, sure, you can probably accept a package at the office, but if you're working as a cashier in a supermarket, it's doubtful your employer would allow you to accept packages while working.

Yeah, definitely this. Depending on security as well, dropping something off at the car is fine, but getting inside the building would not work at a lot of places.

I personally mail every package to my work rather than home. No worry of leaving the house for one 15 minute window in the entire day and ups showing up and taking my package back with them. ($1800 laptop so taking it back was better than the porch but it was still annoying.)

That said I am the IT/Electronics tech for a small machine shop. Most of us here have items we order come to work.

This is my favorite perk of working at a company. The only thing that sort of sucks is when you buy some items for personal use, some for the business, and some for personal-use-at-office, all from the same vendors, and need to disintermingle them. If you're out of town, telling a coworker to go into the Provantage box to grab the network tester you ordered, and having him open the box containing soap, is weird.

If it's going to be at work then just deliver it to your office.

My office has a procedure where all incoming packages are held and checked for the loading papers and then matched to outstanding purchase orders. If there is no paper on the outside, the box is opened to find one.

While I'm not a fan of the car idea, my office isn't exactly compatible with receiving personal packages so I can see an avenue for something like this.

A non-insignificant number of people have a car but commute some other way, using it only on afternoons and weekends. Others only use it for part of the commute (e.g. until the parking lot of some trans/metro station).

Yep, I bike in in the summer months and would consider this. I would never consider Amazon Key for my home. Way too personal and I'd have to integrate or remove my security system.

I have a car, but don't use it for commuting. It is slower and more expensive than public transit. During the day it's parked at home.

> That implies to me they'll have access to your cars location, which is information they can use for targeted ads.

I think you greatly overestimate how useful this is for targeted ads. And keep in mind that Amazon isn't really generating revenue from ads. They sell stuff and AWS.

My office won't accept any delivery over 5kg or of a certain size - I know many people who had their orders from Amazon refused and then the nearest courier depot is 45 minut drive away which is a massive pain. If they could just leave the box in my car that would make it much simpler.

In my hometown suburb there is almost always an extra car in the driveway while the parents are away. Where I live now, many students lesve there cars at home and walk to class. (car is for work). So it may have some applications in non-big city environments

This could work well for grocery delivery, using reusable passive cooling, and reusable containers, as part of solving the returns problem in general, which is key for fashion retail.

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